Project 1: Instrument


Terroir is both a measure of character and of potential, informed by geographical location, materials, soil, climate, topology, orientation, weather, but also informed by occupation, construction, use, memory, history and associations. The Terroir may be manifest on the surface, and also lurking just below, revealed by growth, street name, urban myth or local traditions.

So to begin to consider how architecture might harness and respond to the opportunities of the Terroir and Oxford’s transitional states, first we need to look, and then to see. We need to tune-in our senses, calibrate our experiences, and find methods of testing, recording, mapping and documenting to capture the physical, environmental and emotional findings.


By “Foraging” you will actively interrogate above, below and on the skin of the Sheepwash Channel site: sketching, photographing, modelling, research, making and experimenting, to define your personal response to the critical qualities of the place. Based on this initial reading of the raw materials (animal, vegetable, mineral or phenomenal), you will fine tune the process of “looking” by making a 1:1 device, an “Instrument”, to allow you to “see” and “record” the Terroir of the site.

The “Instrument” needs to be highly portable and finely crafted: the fabrication itself another response to the act of seeing; a register of the “observer” and the “observed”; the city, the place, the landscape. The Instrument “readings” will form the basis of your “Terratorium” propositions, and the “Instrument” will be taken to Sicily to unravel the transitional landscape of Catania, the site for your “Cultivate” proposals.

Costa searches for truffles with his dog in the woods in Monchiero near Alba northwestern Italy

1: “Forage”

  • Visit the site and find something that is particular to the place, it may be something unique to the place or something in abundance on the site; it may be Animal, Vegetable, Mineral or Phenomenal
  • Document what you find, where you found it on site, where it comes from, its history or whatever you find engaging; think what it tells you about the place…and bring your documentation with you on Monday 22nd September to show and tell

2: “Observe”                                                                                                                         

  • Intensively catalogue your site findings (animal, vegetable, mineral or phenomenal) and document how they respond to the Terroir and transitional landscape: where? when? how much? how long for? who?

3: “Tune in”                          

  • Investigate and document what can be made of your site findings (animal, vegetable, mineral or phenomenal)? what responds to them? how can they be used? how do they affect other things on site? are there local traditions?
  • Experiment and document how the character of your site findings are informed by the Terroir and transitional landscape and how they can be repeated, strengthened, be more sensitive, and more revealing.
  • Document the tools and timescales of your observations

4: “Propose”

  • Design and make, test and iteratively improve an “instrument” (event, installation, device or object) in response to your observations and experiments for the review on site.
  • Draw and document the instrument proposal it’s fabrication and design
  • Compile your instrument readings to reveal the Terroir of the site

 photo 4

Materials, Media and Drawing:

Use any media, material or technique appropriate to best communicate your ideas condensed into approx. 5 portfolio sheets


Review:     Thursday 9th October Week 3            On-site in Oxford


Full Brief: Unit_G_Instrument_2014_15revA


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